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2017 Franklin D. Murphy Lecturer: Dr. Christine Guth

"Wit & Wisdom in a Japanese Teabowl"
Saturday, February 4, 2017 @2:00pm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Atkins Auditorium

The tea ceremony is widely appreciated for its social and aesthetic values, but scholars tend to ignore the important role it has also played in the creation of knowledge. The focus of this presentation is a lacquer teabowl made by Ogawa Haritsu (aka Ritsuō; 1663-1747), an artist celebrated for his innovative and imaginative use of materials. It asks why the bowl was made of lacquer rather than ceramics, and what messages the experience of handling it conveyed to its users. Dr. Guth proposes that Ritsuō’s choice of material expressed an engagement with fashionable socio-cultural and intellectual trends that informed many eighteenth-century art forms not usually associated with the world of tea.

Dr. Christine Guth led the Asian design history strand in the V&A/RCA History of Design Programme between 2007-16. She has written widely about aspects of the history of collecting, transnational cultural exchange, and material culture, particularly in relation to Japan. Her book length publications include Art Tea and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle (Princeton 1993); Art of Edo Japan: The Artist and the City 1615-1868 (Abrams 1996; Yale 2010); and Hokusai’s Great Wave: Biography

AY 2015-16 "Mini-Murphy" Lectures:

Gennifer Weisenfeld

Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University

Transwar Design: Kamekura Yūsaku from Nippon Kōbō to the Tokyo Olympics

April 18, 2016, 4:30pm, room 211 Spencer Museum of Art

Professor Gennifer Weisenfeld of Duke University is a leading scholar of Japanese modern art, the avant-garde, and design history. Her work explores the impact of Japan's modern sociopolitical transformations on artistic production and practice; the cultural formations of nation and empire building; Japanese modernism; the politics of the avant-garde; the visual culture of disaster; commercial design; and the relationship between high art and popular culture. Her first book, Mavo: Japanese Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1905-1931 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002) is today recognized as a canonical text in the field.

Carol Armstrong
Professor of History of Art, Yale University
Between Greenberg and Frankenthaler: This Cézanne Which Is Not One

March 24, 2016, 5:15pm, room 211 Spencer Museum of Art

Professor Carol Armstrong of Yale University, is a highly-regarded scholar of nineteenth-century French painting, the history of photography, the history and practice of art criticism, feminist theory and the representation of women and gender in art and visual culture. She has published books and essays on Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, and 19th and 20th century photography, and has curated exhibitions at Princeton University Art Museum, the Drawing Center in New York, the Yale Center for British Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has been a frequent contributor to October and Artforum magazines, and continues to be an active art critic. She is also a practicing photographer. Her current projects include a book on Cézanne, modern physics and schizophrenia, a book of dialogues about the uses of the past and the functions of art in the present, and a series of essays about still life, description, and the “feminine” principle.

Erika Doss
Professor of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth-Century American Artists and Religion

November 17, 2015, 5:15pm, room 211 Spencer Museum of Art

Erika Doss, Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, is a leading scholar of American art and visual culture. Her lecture, Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth-Century American Artists and Religion, will examine the significance of religious belief in the making and meaning of modern American art.

Looking at American moderns ranging in stylistic diversity from Joseph Cornell and Mark Tobey to Agnes Pelton, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol, it further considers why religion was largely excluded in the history of modern American art, especially as that history was shaped in the early through mid-twentieth-century. How might the visual, material, and affective dimensions of religious belief provide enriched understandings of American modernism?


Zaixin Hong
Professor of Art, University of Puget Sound

Word as Image: Chinese Calligraphy in Modern and Contemporary Art

September 24, 2015, 5:15pm, room 211 Spencer Museum of Art

The language of Chinese art history is inseparable from calligraphic writing. In his Writing and the Ancient State: Early China in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2014), Haicheng Wang observes that writing--the most important profession in the early civilizations--is a universal phenomenon. However, in the Western narrative of world art, from Ernst Gombrich’s Story of Art (Phaidon, 1950) to David Summers’s Real Spaces: World  Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism (Phaidon, 2003), word as image has yet to become acknowledged among the major art practices worldwide. Before and after the European concept of “fine art” (which excluded calligraphy and seal-engraving) was introduced to China in 1897, Chinese artists took various approaches to reexamining the word-image relation in their art innovation.  In so doing, calligraphy in modern and contemporary art not only contributes to modernizing the extant Chinese cultural heritage, but also to revealing universal significance of non-representational visual tradition in the history of world art from its beginning to our times.



Murphy Distinguished Alumni Lecture:

Ellen Goheen
Former Director of Collections & Special Exhibitions, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

From Temples of Art to Venues of Entertainment: The Evolution of the Art Museum

October 1, 2015, 5:15pm, room 211 Spencer Museum of Art

Ms. Goheen spent more than three decades in various positions at The Nelson. During her tenure, which began in 1967, the expectations of an Art Museum changed drastically. She will share her experiences and observations throughout this evolution, incorporating specific examples of projects, exhibitions, and acquisitions.

Past Franklin D. Murphy Lecturers


Bernard O'Kane
Professor of Islamic Art & Architecture
American University in Cairo
April 21, 2015
"The Writing on the Walls: Epigraphy in Medieval Cairo"

Paul Groner
Professor Emeritus, Department of Religious Studies
University of Virginia
November 10, 2014
"Adventures in Japanese Tendai Buddhism: What a Textual Scholar Has Leanerd From Material Culture"

Corine Wegener
Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer
Smithsonian Institution
October 2, 2014
Distinguished Alumni Lecture: "From Berlin to Baghdad: When Art Historians Go To War"


Chin-Sung Chang
Associate Professor
Seoul National University
April 28, 2014
"Envisioning an Ideal World: The City of the Great Peace and Visual Politics in Early 19th Century Korea"

Elizabeth Morrison
Senior Curator of Manuscripts
J. Paul Getty Museum
March 10, 2014
"Manuscripts in a Museum Context"

Cynthia Hahn
Professor of Art History
Hunter College of the City University of New York
January 23, 2014
"Capturing Fragments of the Divine: Relics and Reliquaries of the True Cross"
April 13, 2014
"Capturing Fragments of the Divine: Relics and Power"

Vernon Hyde Minor
Research Professor, University of Illinois
Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado
October 29, 2013
Distinguished Alumni Lecture: "The Importance of Being Art History"


John T. Carpenter
Curator of Japanese Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tuesday, April 9
"Hokusai: Painting and Deluxe Prints for Special Clients."

Kevin Carr
Associate Professor of Japanese Art History
University of Michigan
Thursday, March 28
"Who is the Hase Kannon? Reflections on Sacred Identities in Medieval Japanese Art"

Michael R. Grauer
Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Wednesday, October 24
"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys and Indians, and Other Horror Stories of an Unorthodox Historian of Art (and other stuff)"

 Sharon Gregory
Associate Professor of Art History
St. Francis Xavier University
Monday, October 22
"Out from Under the Tuscan Sun: Vasari, Salviati and Michelangelo in Venice"

William E. Wallace
Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History
Washington University, St. Louis
Thursday, November 8
"Problems in Michelangelo's Sculpture… Many"

Laura Weigert
Associate Professor of Art History
Rutgers University
Tuesday, March 12
"The Devil's Stage: Hubert Cailleau's Illuminated Manuscripts and the Illusion of a Medieval Theater"


Michael Brenson
Bard College "Anatomy of a Sculptural Masterpiece: David Smith's Australia (1951)"
Spencer Museum of Art
Thursday, April 19, 2012.  5:30 PM
"David Smith and the Challenges of Biography"
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Sunday, April 22, 2012. 2:30 PM


Christopher M.S. Johns
Norman & Roselea Goldberg Professor of Art History Vanderbilt University
"China and the Church: Chinoiserie and the Roman Connection"
Thursday, April 15, 5:30 pm
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium "The Art and Visual Culture of European Chinoiserie"
Sunday, April 18, 2:30 pm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Toshio Watanabe The Director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation, University of the Arts, London
"Modernity and Censorship: Nude Painting Controversy in Meiji Japan (1868-1912)"
Thursday, April 1 at 5:30 pm
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium
"Modern Japanese Gardens in a Transnational Context"
Thursday, April 8 at 6:00 pm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art



Art History Event

Views from Sunflower Terrace:
Celebrations in Honor of Marsha Haufler
October 17-22, 2017

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